ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s reconciliation efforts with Israel will in no way diminish Ankara’s support for the cause of the Palestinians, the Turkish leader said Tuesday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments during a visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leader arrived in Ankara just one week after Turkey and Israel announced their decision to restore full diplomatic relations and reappoint ambassadors for the first time since 2018.
“The steps taken in our relations with Israel will in no way reduce our support for the Palestinian cause,” Erdogan said. “On the contrary, our Palestinian brothers also express that these steps will contribute to a solution to the Palestinian issue and improve the situation of the Palestinian people.”
Abbas didn’t comment directly on the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel, but thanked Turkey for its “unwavering” support to the Palestinians.
“We are aware of their support for their legitimate rights, freedom and independence,” Abbas said. “We know that Turkey and its institutions stand by the Palestinian people and the Palestinian state in every field, and support them in the international arena.”
Last week, Israel and Turkey announced they were restoring full diplomatic relations in the latest step in months of reconciliation between the two countries.
Turkey and Israel were once close regional allies, but the relationship disintegrated under Erdogan, who has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Israel, in turn, has objected to Turkey’s embrace of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
The two countries withdrew their respective ambassadors in 2010, after Israeli forces stormed a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians that broke an Israeli blockade. The incident resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists.
Following an attempt at mending ties, Turkey recalled its ambassador again in 2018 after the United States moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Palestinians didn’t object to the improvement of relations between Turkey and Israel.
“The dialogue (with Israel) will allow us to better defend the Palestinians,” Cavusoglu told Haber Global television in an interview. “They say this themselves. “
“The steps that we are taking does not mean that Turkey will make concessions,” he said.
Cavusoglu said a new ambassador would be named soon.